Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell has announced several proposals that focus on boosting the commonwealth's energy initiatives, including a handful of recommendations for the development of renewable energy.
Most notably for the wind industry, McDonnell set aside $500,000 for research and development to accelerate and aid in the private development of offshore wind energy.
‘This [funding] will allow the commonwealth to continue its efforts to develop data and additional information concerning the resource available in the federally designated 'wind energy area' off the coast of Virginia,’ the governor said in a statement. ‘The data will be available to reduce development costs and assist developers in the federal leasing process.’
In addition, McDonnell introduced a proposal to encourage investment in renewable energy research and development (R&D) by providing renewable energy certificates (RECs) to utilities for investment in renewable energy and cleantech R&D. However, under the proposal, utilities would be limited to meeting no more than 20% of Virginia's voluntary renewable energy goal – 15% of base year (2007) sales by 2025 – with R&D.
McDonnell also addressed the need to remove the regulatory barriers to wind energy development, including the approval process for electric transmission. Under a new proposal introduced by the governor, utilities would be authorized to seek approval for a 138 kV transmission line from either the State Corporation Commission (SCC) or the locality or localities where the transmission line will be sited – whereas now, they are only allowed to seek approval from the SCC.
This small modification, McDonnell contended, would expedite the transmission approval process, potentially streamlining renewable energy development.
McDonnell also outlined proposals related to energy-efficiency, alternative fuels and natural gas.
Despite his support for offshore wind and other renewables, however, McDonnell expressed the need to pursue what he called an "all-of-the-above" approach to energy – which would not count out fossil fuels.
"Only by aggressively developing all types of energy and removing bureaucratic hurdles to this development will we be able to meet our energy needs and reduce our nation's dependence upon foreign sources of energy," McDonnell said in a statement. "We will aggressively pursue state-based strategies to improve American energy independence and cost reductions in observance of the federal government's total lack of a coherent energy policy.’